Welcome to the website of the Caledonian Society of Sheffield – a society which has been in existence in one form or another since 1822 and has a very proud history. It was just prior to a Burns Supper held by the West Riding Caledonian Society in January 1822 that four gentlemen residing in Sheffield, Messrs Brown, Ormiston, Cameron and Bideford, decided that they would like to form a local society in Sheffield. They took the opportunity to recruit members at the supper and the original Caledonian Society of Sheffield came into being in October 1822. Indeed, in 1821 a group of Scots living in Sheffield presented a pair of silver candlesticks with snuffers and a tray to Jean Burns, widow of Robert Burns, which we understand are still held by their descendants. The letter of thanks from Jean Burns was addressed to Mr J. Brown – one of the founders of our Society.
Three or four Societies which have existed since the original were dissolved in turn for one reason or another, but continuity was maintained, with its current incarnation reaching back to December 1905. The Society has continued to thrive ever since. It was originally formed as a fellowship for the large number of Scots who migrated to Sheffield to work in the city’s expanding industries. The first meeting resolved that the Society should exist for ‘the promotion of friendly intercourse, good fellowship and mutual acts of kindness amongst the members and that a fund be established for the relief of members, their widows and children in distress’. This resolution of course highlights that only men were allowed to be members. I’m pleased to say that this is now not the case, with many ladies not only members but office holders too – something that would have been unheard of in the early years! Indeed, in 1971 we appointed our first lady president – Mrs Myra Gray – who was thrilled to receive such an honour.
The spirit of taking care of others is still an intrinsic part of the Society. Although, with the beginning of the welfare state, the Almoner role was no longer needed, we uphold the spirit of giving. Each year, the President nominates two charities to be supported during their year of office. This usually comprises a Scottish-based charity supporting the land of their heritage and a local charity supporting their adopted city, both benefitting from the proceeds of charity days, raffles and donations.
For many years membership was only open to people born in Scotland or with Scottish parents. As the number of native-born Scots in Sheffield has diminished over the years, the Society has amended its criteria for membership and now welcomes anyone who has an affinity with Scotland and an interest in its history and traditions.
The Society expresses its affinity with Scotland through a range of extremely active groups:
We also enjoy other activities including golf, tenpin bowling and holidays in Scotland. We hold several formal evenings such as St Andrew’s Ball and Burns Supper which afford us an opportunity to wear traditional Highland dress and meet to enjoy dining and dancing the traditional Scottish way – a good time always had by all!
Throughout the year we also hold many informal outings and evenings together which are well attended and always enjoyable. Many of these events are highlighted on the website.